Wearing shades of white, pink and purple, hundreds of nurses from across British Columbia rallied at Jack Poole Plaza in downtown VancouverThursday, demanding the province do more to keep them safe on the job.

“What do we want? Violence prevention! When do we want it? Now!” was chanted through a megaphone as women and men marched together, holding aloft signs reading "2020 = 24/7 Security" and "Prevent violence, retain nurses."

The BC Nurses’ Union said it’s seeing positive results from a number of worksites that have added properly-trained security personnel; however, the number of violent conflicts reported at health care facilities jumped by more than 50 per cent between 2014 and 2018.  

“On average, 26 nurses per month suffer a violent injury at work in B.C.,” said BC Nurses’ Union President Christine Sorensen in a statement. “We need to change this statistic and we will continue to demand that the model of adding properly trained security staff in a variety of health care facilities is implemented across B.C.”

According to the nurses’ union, a 2018 partnership between Interior Health and the union brought in two full-time security officers to the emergency room at Kelowna General Hospital. The nurses interviewed from Kelowna General said the added security presence made them feel safer.

“We’ve asked nurses and we’ve looked at our survey data,” said Sorensen.

“The facts show that having security officers available who can respond quickly and effectively, drastically improves the culture of the worksite for both patients and nurses.”